Looking Back Before We Jump Ahead

by Jake Appleman

After not watching TV for a solid week because the St. Louis Cardinals ruined my month, I watched bits and pieces of five NBA games on ESPN Classic this weekend. Here’s what went down:

CAVS-HEAT 1/28/04

This was the first real epic LeBronD Wade showdown. Even though they both played well, a game that featured obscene clutchness from Malik Allen and a Juanny Wags game winner can only serve to show how far Bron and Wade have come leadership-wise.

KINGS-LAKERS – ’01 Western Conference Playoffs. Second Round game 4.

The Lakers break out the brooms in Sacto. Hedo Turkoglu goes off but it’s not enough to save the Kings. It’s worth mentioning that Hedo’s last name is pronounced Turk-a-loo, not Turk-a-glue. I’m willing to go out on a limb and state that we all have at least one friend that makes this mistake.

The best part was watching a misty eyed Chris Webber leave the court. He was so visibly emotional and nostalgic that you could have cut the palpable tension with the axe that the media began to grind once they realized C-Webb was becoming the player everyone knew he could become. In the financial irony of ironies, he almost came to New York.

In a related story, I was recently paid $100 to talk to the Axe Body spray people about my deodorant. Aside from any SLAM earnings, that was the most enjoyable money I’ve ever made. I’ll walk you through it in the comments section if you really care.

BULLS-BULLETS – 12/23/92

Money goes off for 57 on 22-37 from the floor. Larry Stewart may or may not have crapped the bed. That was the eighth loss in a nine game skid for the then-Bullets. Somebody send Wizznutz a fruit basket. I caught the first five minutes before hitting the pillow. Two things:

  • Back in the day, Harvey Grant vs. Horace Grant was always an occasion. They should start an NBA-related search engine called “Goggle”, and they should also pay me half because I just partially trademarked it!*

* = HowAboutDemApples Inc. barely recognizes the inherent hypocrisy in trademarking a pun after basing your own non-existent company on a pun. We (royal) also recognize that upon reading this Mark Cuban might suddenly become afraid of a Grant bros. conglomerate and buy it out for a few hundred thousand dollars and some Jack Haley chest hair. Not that we’d blame him.

  • I remember the specific Knicks-Bulls X-Mas game that the Bulls were looking forward to because that was the same night that Damon Wayans introduced me to “Homey the Clown.” And, yes, like Johnny Drama I have an elephant’s brain as far as long-term memory is concerned.

NETS-LAKERS – Game 3 ’02 Finals.

The Nets play their hearts out, but Kobe and Shaq are simply unstoppable.

  • Down 4 after a Laker run erases an earlier deficit, Keith Van Horn thinks he hits 3 but his foot is way over the line. If that doesn’t tell you everything you need to know right there…Complicating things, Snapper Jones goes on a praise Van Horn tangent. He did one thing right and one thing wrong–no need for extra drama, though I suppose it comes with the territory (final minutes of an NBA Finals game).
  • Having been 5 years removed from this specific emotional roller coaster, it was awe-inspiring to watch Jason Kidd put that team on his back leave EVERYTHING on the floor, even if it wasn’t enough.
  • It wasn’t enough because Kobe and Shaq were simply impossible to defend. After banking his unstoppable fadeaway hook, Shaq goes down the other end and seals the deal by swatting Kidd. Bill Walton talks about that play being the difference between an easy series and a hard fought series. And he’s right.

NETS-CAVS 3/27/04

Let’s call this the Slamonline Michael Reghi commemoration. Reghi first quarter quotes followed by observations.

  • “That Rodney Rogers triple wouldn’t stay in the hole.” If you weren’t watching this game, you might misconstrue that as a Wendy’s triple bacon cheeseburger metaphor. I’m just saying…
  • Jeff McInnis will be out for five games…A devastating blow to the Cavaliers.” This is true. Now that McInnis is a maligned “cancer” after his brief spell partying in Manhattan, it’s really easy to forget that the Cavs missed the playoffs during LeBron’s rookie year in part because J-Mac missed time. Sorry Philly fans, but you can’t win with Kevin Ollie as your starting point guard.
  • “Rodney Rogers lost the ball,” shortly followed by “Ilgauskas can stroke it” and a ‘brilliant’ “I love drinking Guiness while playing poker” commercial. Just an interesting sequence that deserves some attention.
  • Kedrick Brown, moving without the basketball.”
  • On Carlos Boozer: “You’re talking about bang for your buck in the NBA—and you’re looking at him.” You’re talking bucks hurting your banging (rebounding)–and you’re looking at him.

Speaking of classic, Rest In Peace, Red Auerbach. It’s your world, we just continue to live in it.